At Shaw Mhor Early Years Centre, STEM is fully integrated into learning experiences. Shaw Mhor staff have been working in partnership with their colleagues in their associated primary and secondary schools through their involvement in Education Scotland’s National STEM Project. This has allowed them to share approaches and plan collaboratively with colleagues in other settings, for instance, to develop STEM bags for children to take home to engage parents in STEM learning. Staff and the wider community now actively tackle gender stereotyping and encourage both boys and girls to get involved with ‘hands-on’ activities, including those focused on engineering and construction. The Centre makes extensive use of its outdoor areas for learning and play.
Examples of activities include:
• tinker box – children use real-life tools to develop a range of STEM skills and understanding. This included using a screwdriver to make holes of varying sizes, teasing out the child’s understanding of size and measurement;
• make desk – straws are used to construct a shelter and then painted. The paint is made by the children themselves, developing their curiosity and problem-solving skills; and
• construction area – the Early Years Centre developed an innovative partnership with Scottish and Southern Electric (SSE) who supplied hard hats and barriers and helped them to develop a realistic construction-based learning area outdoors.
The focus on STEM at the centre means learners are confidently using scientific vocabulary, developing their investigative and inquiry skills, and are able to ask questions and solve problems.